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Rum

Rum is such an evocative spirit. It transforms, transcends and instantly transports the drinker to the sun-washed shores of the West Indies; white sands, palm trees and blue seas. It always has a sense of joviality, in part thanks to its Caribbean origins, and also because of the unabashed decadence surrounding a libation made from sugar.

The kind of sugar used is one of the key differentiating factors in rum production. In the Spanish and British Antilles, for example, rum is traditionally distilled from molasses - a by-product of sugar production.

In the French Caribbean islands, however, sugarcane juice (sometimes called sugarcane honey) is used instead of molasses. Countries like Martinique and Guadeloupe are famed for producing spirit distilled from sugarcane juice, known as rhum agricole - French for 'agricultural rum'. The spirit is often made in a way that more closely resembles the distillation of some of the famous French brandies, such as Cognac or Armagnac. Younger varieties often exude a tangy, herbal flavour, whilst the aged varieties (often matured in Cognac casks) will offer up subtlety and complexity, just like any fine aged spirit.

The Caribbean has been cultivated for sugar for centuries, and the various occupiers, be they Spanish, French or English, have their own terms for the spirit; Ron, Rhum and, of course, Rum, respectively.

As far as British involvement with the spirit, there has always been a strong connection with the Royal Navy. Indeed, at one time the Navy afforded their sailors a half pint of rum as part of their daily ration. The rum was traded and export grew in large part because of the export possibilities that sea travel brought about.

Many competing arguments exist as to the origins of the term "rum”. The most convincing is that it is a shortened version of "rumbullion” – a word meaning great uproar and noise, and a good reminder of the often violent, dramatic history of rum. Other terms have existed, including "kill devil” which was used to describe spirit distilled from molasses.

Due to the huge geographical territory in which rum is produced, there are many variants in production, the type of still being one of the most obvious. Usually, pot stills are used to distil thick, rich, aged rums (El Dorado 15 and El Pusser’s are good examples). Continuous column stills, on the other hand, are used to produce white spirits best associated with cocktails.

Maturation is an interesting aspect too. White rums are either unaged or aged only very briefly. Classics such as Bacardi Superior are crisp and tangy and work brilliantly well in cocktails. Gold rums tend to be a mix of spirit old and new, and also work nicely in cocktails, with an increase in complexity and flavour. For the connoisseurs of sipping spirit, however, dark rums are the preference. These can be tremendously refined and delicious, thanks in no small part to the tropical nature of the climate. The hot weather allows Caribbean rums to mature particularly rapidly - at as much as thrice the rate of Scotch Whisky . In this respect a 15 year old rum is the equivalent of a 45 year old whisky!

Other geographical factors come into play too, and some of the top rum-producing countries have attained their own unique style.

Jamaica is perhaps one of the most prolific rum nations today, with its own unique style. Prior to distillation, the molasses are typically allowed to ferment for a great length of time. This is then followed by distillation in pot stills. The result is intensity and body, often with notes of tropical fruit and banana. Appleton Estate and Wray and Nephew are superlative examples.

Barbados is another prime rum territory. One of the original islands to begin rum distillation, Barbadian rums are often superbly balanced, with deliciously aromatic tendencies. There are three main distilleries on the island (West Indies Rum Distillery, Mount Gay and Foursquare), and each makes use of pot stills. These are easy-drinking rums, with some of the longer-aged variants (Doorly’s XO, for example) working brilliantly as sipping spirits.

Guyana is one of our favourite rum nations, thanks in no small part to the heavy, Demerara rums bottled in the El Dorado range. These are full-bodied spirits, traditionally the main constituent in British Navy rum. Made in a mix of pot stills and column stills, there is quite a variety of flavour to be found. Where once there were more than 200 distilleries, today there is only one. We suggest you seek out El Dorado 15 for an example of just how good Guyana rum can be!

Latin America is home to the lighter, fresher cocktail rums. The popularity of such spirit (with the advent of the recent cocktail revolution) has transformed the place into the most prolific region of all. It all started, however, with Bacardi, originally produced in Cuba before the country's factories were nationalised. Today, Bacardi is made in Puerto Rico, and the classic Carta Blanca remains a mainstay for many cocktails including the Daiquiri. Countries such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela and Trinidad play hosts to some of the world's top distilleries. Brands such as Ron Zacapa, Brugal and Pampero - among many others - are well worth a look.

Whilst not always thought of as a true rum, this introduction would not be complete without a mention of Cachaça. The famous spirit, made almost exclusively in Brazil, is traditionally enjoyed as part of a Caipirinha cocktail, and its production closely resembles Rhum Agricole. It is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, and is bottled at between 38% and 54%ABV. One interesting aspect is the legally permissible addition of up to six grams of sugar per litre, giving the spirit additional sweetness. Varieties are sold both aged and unaged, with the former being a more premium style thanks to the extra complexity imbued by the use of wooden barrels. To sample some fine Cachaça, look for the superb distilleries Germana and Abelha. We recommend you enjoy the aged varieties neat, whilst the tangier white Cachaça is best drunk in the aforementioned Caipirinha - a cocktail made simply with two shots of Cachaça, half a lime and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Delicious!

Recently, rum has surged in popularity. Its regard as a fine cocktail mixer is good and widespread and a number of the world’s most popular drinks are rum-based - the Daiquiri and the Mojito being two prime examples. It is only recently, though, that our beloved rum has really been enjoyed en masse as a standalone beverage of true merit, and this new direction is excellent, for rum is as much a connoisseur’s libation as any other dark spirit. Like all dark spirits, a stemmed tulip glass is best for optimum palate entry and for focusing the aroma.

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994

70cl, 45.20%
Rhum J.M

A 1994 vintage Rhum Agricole from the Rhum J.M. distillers in Martinique. From 1994 to 2009, this intense, vibrant rum, made from pressed-sugar cane juice rather than molasses, matured in oak. It has…  More info

Rhum J.M. Vintage 1994
$223.10

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s

70cl, 0%
Bardinet Distillery

This white rum was bottled in the 1970's by Bardinet and is now a collectable item.  More info

Bardinet Ron Negrita Blanco - 1970s
$174.04

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s

100cl, 0%
Sarmiento Bembibre

A very hard-to-find bottle of white rum from the 1970s. This comes from Leon, Spain.  More info

Sarmiento Bembibre Ron Marimba Blanco - 1970s
$174.04

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum

70cl, 37.50%
The Rum Company

A simple white Jamaican rum from the Coruba range - good for cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Coruba Carta Blanca Rum
$28.74

Ron Calados White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Ron Calados

A white rum from the Caribbean, Ron Calados is a cheap and cheerful white rum which is intended for mixing with strongly flavoured drinks like finest cola…  More info

Ron Calados White Rum
$19.77

Cruzan Single Barrel Rum

70cl, 40%
Cruzan

Distilled at St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, Cruzan is the only distillery on the island. This is made with rums aged for up to 12 years, which are blended and allowed to marry for a further year…  More info

Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
1
$35.33

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Captain Morgan

A fine old edition of Captain Morgan's scrummy dark rum "Black Label". This was bottled in the 1970s, and is a product of Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. Giving a product the name "Black Label"…  More info

Captain Morgan Black Label - 1970s
$174.04

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s

100cl, 80%
Stroh Inländer

Wowser. 80%. Yes, really. Stroh. Aaaaah. Stroh.  More info

Stroh Inländer Rum 1l - 1970s
$145.03

Rhum St Barth Chic

70cl, 40%
St. Barth

This is a rich spicy rhum agricole from the West Indies. Enjoy neat or in an exciting cocktail concoction.  More info

Rhum St Barth Chic
$80.11

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)

70cl, 40%
St. Lucia Distillers

One of them fancy white rums that's actually aged and filtered so it can be used in cocktails without affecting the colour! This one is made at the St. Lucia distillery and is aged an average of…  More info

Toz White Gold (St. Lucia)
$45.64

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum

70cl, 40%
Dictador

The Dictador 100 Months Claro Rum is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for... well... 100 months. Following this, the Claro is filtered to remove its colour but not the flavour, resulting in a…  More info

Dictador 100 Months Aged Claro Rum
$56.24

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s

75cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi's classic white rum, just the ticket for those Daiquiris you've been wanting to make. This bottle was produced in the 1970s.  More info

Bacardi Carta Blanca - 1970s
$174.04

Cabo Bay White Rum

70cl, 37.50%
Wilhelm Braun Erben

This is a simple, uncomplicated white rum which has been produced in Germany. Good for use in cocktails and long drinks. It might be named after Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, which is often just called…  More info

Cabo Bay White Rum
$20.96

Bielle Rhum Ambré

50cl, 50%
Distillerie Bielle

Surely the soft, subtle golden hue of this Bielle rhum agricole at least partially inspired the expression's name: Ambré (which of course means amber). It's aged in oak at the distillery in…  More info

Bielle Rhum Ambré
$42.74

Bacardi Superior 1.5l

150cl, 37.50%
Bacardi

A magnum of the classic Carta Blanca white rum from Bacardi. First created by Don Facundo Bacardi, a Spaniard who travelled to Cuba as a teenager.  More info

Bacardi Superior 1.5l
4
$58.42

Rum Nation Barbados 8 Year Old 2002

70cl, 43%
Rum Nation

8 Year old Bajan rum from Rum Nation, 2002 vintage.  More info

Rum Nation Barbados 8 Year Old 2002
$56.07

Ogasawara Rum

70cl, 40%
Ogasawara Rum

Japanese Rum from the Ogasawara Islands (which are also known as the Bonin Islands), produced using sugar cane grown on the islands. A classically-style molasses-based rum, with plenty of fruit,…  More info

Ogasawara Rum
$57.62

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits

70cl, 40%
Compania Licorera de Nicaragua

This is Bristol Spirits' Reserve Rum of Nicaragua, which was distilled in column stills at Compania Licorera de Nicaragua (the same place that Flor de Caña is produced). It was distilled in 2002 and…  More info

Reserve Rum of Nicaragua 2002 (Bottled 2013) - Bristol Spirits
$53.84

Dzama 3 Year Old Rhum

70cl, 52%
Compagnie Vidzar

Dzama Rhum is made on the exotic island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. This rum has been aged for three years before it was bottled. It has a stunningly full palate of candied orange peel, coffee…  More info

Dzama 3 Year Old Rhum
$41.22

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)

75cl, 43%
St. George Spirits

This right here is the 2014 harvest of California Agricole Rum from St. George Spirits, made with sugar cane grown in Southern California. The St. George distillers take this sugar cane and extract…  More info

St. George California Agricole Rum (Harvested 2014)
$76.08

Six Saints Caribbean Rum

70cl, 41.70%
Six Saints Rum

Six Saints Caribbean Rum comes to us from Grenada after being aged in bourbon barrels and bottled at 41.7% ABV. Though Grenada is known as the 'Island of Spice', this isn't actually a spiced rum!…  More info

Six Saints Caribbean Rum
1
$42.49

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum

75cl, 40%
Grenada Distillers

This is a light and mellow, gold medal winning white rum from Clarkes Court.  More info

Clarkes Court Superior Light Rum
$31.36

Rhum de Père Labat 50

70cl, 50%
Rhum de Père Labat

A 50% ABV bottling of unaged rhum agricole from Rhum de Père Labat, produced on the island of Marie-Galante, which is located just south of Guadeloupe. At 50% ABV, this will stand out in cocktails…  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 50
$35.62

WM Cadenhead 12 Year Old Green Label Barbados Rum

70cl, 46%
WM Cadenhead

12 year old rum distilled in Barbados, presented as part of WM Cadenhead's Green Label range, which features rums from all over the world. Top stuff.  More info

WM Cadenhead 12 Year Old Green Label Barbados Rum
$47.05

Rhum de Père Labat 40

70cl, 40%
Rhum de Père Labat

A blanc rhum agricole from Père Labat, bottled at 40% ABV. This flavoursome rhum, made with the juice of pressed sugar canes, comes from Marie-Galante, an island just south of Guadeloupe.  More info

Rhum de Père Labat 40
$26.53

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